This past weekend musical legends Willie Nelson and Neil Young played a sold out benefit concert at the home and family farm of Art and Helen Tanderup in Neligh, Nebraska. The working corn and soybean farm, which sits directly on the route of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, was converted from a cornfield into a beautiful concert venue, decorated with hand-painted teepees installed by local Ponca and Lakota tribal members.
Roughly 8,000 people attended, including farmers, ranchers and Native Americans who go by the name, the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance,” as well as local Nebraskans and other music fans from across the country. The concert supported the efforts of BOLD Nebraska and the Indigenous Environmental Network, and was co-produced by John Quigley of Spectral Q, Jane Kleeb’s team at BOLD Nebraska and 1% Productions.
Turning a working 160-acre farm into a concert venue for 8,000 people, with room for several thousand cars, was no easy feat. Devoted to the mission of stopping this Pipeline, Art and Helen Tanderup offered more than just their land. Art harvested some of his crops early, which meant a little less profit in a business with already minuscule margins, and spent his days directing organizers, troubleshooting needs like electricity for sound and lighting, bathrooms and traffic flow, and preparing for guests when he really needed to be working in the field.
Art has been the face of the farmers in the fight against the Pipeline, certainly one of the most vocal in the Alliance. He traveled to Washington, D.C. back in April, knowing he might get arrested for a planned act of civil disobedience, attended the People’s March and UN Climate Talks in New York in September, has been featured on the Ed Show and other news shows, has given countless interviews and has risked his reputation in the community – even lost friends – over his active role in the Keystone fight. Art has sacrificed sleep and time with his family because “we are stewards of the land, and if I let this pipeline come through our land, I’m not being a very good steward.”
Art, Neil and Willie spoke with some of the other Pipeline Fighters at a Press Conference on Saturday. Young, an outspoken opponent of the tar sands and nonrenewable sources of energy, told American leaders to get with the times.
“America has a chance to stand up and lead the world like we used to,” said Young. “So we’re not just standing here complaining about problems, but finding solutions.” On stage, Young sang, “tar-sand oil ain’t good for drinking.”
Willie Nelson, a long-standing supporter of small family farms, said, “We’re here for the farmers and ranchers, the cowboys and Indians, and we’ve always been there. Thank you for joining us.”
But Willie’s son, Micah Nelson, had the quote of the day. “Big Agriculture, Big Oil, they’re all fingers on the same hand,” Micah said. “And the Keystone XL Pipeline is the middle finger.”
Artist John Quigley gave passive fans an opportunity to become active participants in the fight against the proposed KXL Pipeline. Concertgoers “climbed the mountaintop” on their way back to their cars, walking right to a section of farmland on the proposed route. Participants formed human chains in the cornrows, holding hands and shouting, “Today is the day that the idea of the Keystone Pipeline died.”
Neil Young ended the show with his new song, “Who’s gonna stand up?” The crowd sang back, “We are!”
The consensus is this: It’s time to stand up for clean water, clean air, and a healthy future that our children and grandchildren can enjoy.
Oil and water don’t mix. Are you ready to stand up for water?